3D Printing in Manufacturing: Boeing

3D Printing in Manufacturing: Boeing

Boeing and 3D Printing in Manufacturing The First 20,000 If you want a true testimony that 3D printing in manufacturing is here to stay, all you have to do is look at the growing importance of 3D printing at Boeing. In the early days of 3D printing, Boeing began using the technology for rapid prototyping and creating parts that would be difficult to produce with traditional manufacturing processes, especially parts that have intricate grooves or openings embedded in the interior. By June of 2013, Boeing’s use of 3D printing had become so widespread that they had installed more than 20,000 printed parts in their aircraft. These 20,000 parts were all non-mechanical and were used in ten different commercial and military planes. The Dreamliner, one of Boeing’s prized luxury planes, included 30 different 3D printed parts. The Next Steps – Jet Engines and Earth’s Orbit In April of 2015, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) approved the first 3D printed part to actually be used in the jet engine itself. Designed by GE Aviation, the part houses an engine sensor. Boeing and GE will now be working together to retrofit engines for the 777 to include the 3D printed parts. While this is the first part to make its way into the engine, GE indicates that it will not be the last. In fact, GE has detailed a plan to use 3D printed fuel nozzles in the LEAP engine for the Boeing 737MAX and Airbus A320neo. There will also be 3D printed nozzles in the GE9X for the Boeing 777X, which will be the largest jet engine in history. In October,...
3D Printing Basics: Printer Build Volumes and Tolerances

3D Printing Basics: Printer Build Volumes and Tolerances

How big do you want to print? Last week in our 3D printing basics series we discussed the history of 3D printing. Today, we are going to explore the wide variety of printer build volumes and tolerances that allow you to create prints ranging from very tiny to quite massive. While all printers work by building a part layer by layer, the machines can vary significantly in terms of quality and functionality. When searching for a 3D printer for your home or office, you can really distinguish one printer from another based upon the printer build volumes and tolerances. Printer Build Volumes The build volume, quite simply, determines how big your machine allows you to print. For years, analysts believed that limited build volumes were the biggest obstacle standing in the way of widespread adoption of 3D printing technology. Today, we are starting to see the design of 3D printers re-imagined in ways that allow them to build full-scale structures, effectively eliminating this critique. Starting at the true desktop level, the printer build volumes for a 3D printer can be quite limited. Many of the entry level printers, especially those around or below the $1,000 mark, have rather small build volumes, mostly less than four inches by four inches by four inches. This means that you can only print something that would fit inside of a four inch cube. While this is enough space to play around with the technology and build little trinkets, if you want to make actual, usable parts, you will find a four-inch limitation to be rather cumbersome. Moving into the next level of printers,...
3D Printing Basics: The History of 3D Printing

3D Printing Basics: The History of 3D Printing

The History of 3D Printing Do you think of 3D printing as a brand new, cutting edge technology? Well, you are half right. While it is true that 3D printing is cutting edge and has only entered the mainstream in recent years, the history of 3D printing actually dates back more than three decades. In fact, the first recorded design for rapid prototyping (RP), the technology that 3D printing is built upon, was developed by a Japanese lawyer, Dr. Hideo Kodama, in 1980. Rapid prototyping is simply any technique that uses computer aided design (CAD) programs to quickly develop a 3D model. The term rapid prototyping is often used interchangeably with additive manufacturing. Unlike traditional prototyping techniques that could take many weeks to complete, rapid prototyping technologies allow businesses to receive their prototype within hours of creating the design. The Breakthrough and the Rise of 3D Systems The first big breakthrough in 3D printing took place in 1983 when Charles “Chuck” Hull invented the first stereolithography apparatus. Hull would go on to found 3D Systems, one of the highest grossing 3D printing companies in operation and a company that we are proud to be a re-seller for. Hull came up with the idea for his machine while he was working on lamps for UV-curable resins and realized that the process could be used to create bonds in the resin that would build objects layer by layer. Remarkably, the first inkjet printer had just been invented in 1976. There was only a period of eight years separating the invention of the first machine capable of printing in 2D and the...
Gizmodo Highlights Things That Couldn’t Exist without 3D Printing

Gizmodo Highlights Things That Couldn’t Exist without 3D Printing

Recently, Gizmodo put out a great article highlighting things that couldn’t exist without 3D printing. While you should definitely check out the full article for yourself, here are some of the highlights: When Airbus announced that it was getting in on the 3D printing game last year, they explained that 3D printed parts could reduce the weight of their planes by as much as 55%. If you have ever had braces or a retainer, you know that one of the most unpleasant parts of the experience is suffering through the impressions of your teeth. Today, dentists can use CAD files to create detailed 3D prints of your teeth and gums. Doctors have been using 3D printing to assist with the placement of stents in two ways. In some cases, they have used a 3D printed model of the patient’s organs to properly place the device. In other cases, the doctors have 3D printed the stents themselves so that they perfectly fit the patient’s individual anatomy. Speaking of cool medical advancements. Doctors have rigged a printer to print living cells that form collagen and cartilage. With this printer, doctors were able to create a living trachea replacement. In fact, the potential for more advanced medical applications is so exciting that they may someday even be able to weld together organic molecules to print organic compounds, which, among other things, could make it much easier to quickly test drugs. 3D printing is truly revolutionizing the way that things are made. Learn more about the amazing advancements in 3D technology by signing up for our newsletter.  ...
Animals Saved by 3D Printing

Animals Saved by 3D Printing

With robotic hands, custom-printed splints, and medicine that can be printed to specific doses, the news is full of ways that 3D printing can help humans live healthier, more productive lives. But, if you look close enough, there are also some really amazing examples of how 3D printing has also been helping some adorable members of the animal kingdom.  Here are a few of our favorite stories about animals saved by 3D printing. 1. A pelican’s new beak. When a pelican began acting strangely at the Dalian Forest Zoo, staff members soon realized that the bird’s beak was damaged. Because a beak is vital to both food gathering and determining a pelican’s social status, a beak is crucial to a pelican’s survival. After two attempts at repairing the beak through other methods, zoo workers decided that they would try to use a 3D printer to make the necessary repairs. Because it appeared that there was already some new growth, doctors determined that it wasn’t necessary to print the entire beak. The final product is a 3D printed extension that screws into the pelican’s original beak, allowing the pelican to feed normally once more. 2. A turtle’s new home. A turtle’s shell protects them in a number of ways, including from bacteria and infection. In some cases, poor nutrition can lead to a bone disease which can cause the shell to wear away. When that happens, a turtle can be left painfully exposed. This is the fate that turtle Cleopatra was facing. Luckily, however, Cleopatra was taken in by Canyon Critters Rescue. Here, founder Nicola “Nico” Novelli determined that he...
A 3D Printed Pill at a Pharmacy Near You

A 3D Printed Pill at a Pharmacy Near You

This week, the FDA approved the first 3D printed pill. While the medical community has long dreamed of the potential of 3D printed pharmaceuticals, and there have been multiple 3D printed medical devices already approved, this decision marks the first time that a pill will be officially manufactured on a printer. Developed by Ohio-based pharmaceutical company Aprecia, the drug in question, Spirtam Levetiracetam, is designed to control seizures. Although there are already similar drugs on the market, the unique design of the 3D pill provides for a more effective delivery system. Why 3D Printing? The primary benefit of a 3D printed pill is simply that the nature of the print causes the medicine to dissolve quickly. Aprecia’s trademarked technology, which is known as ZipDose, creates a more porous pill. Once liquid enters the equation, the pill quickly dissolves away. This makes the pill much easier to swallow, especially in high doses. Another reason that the potential for 3D printed medicine is so exciting is the ability to have minute control over the dosage. This allows pharmacists to customize the doses for each individual based upon their unique needs. While Spirtam Levetiracetam is only available in one shape, another potential benefit of printing 3D pills is that the medication could be produced in a wide array of shapes that aren’t possible with traditional medical manufacturing methods. As research has shown that the shape of a pill can determine how the medication is released, having greater control over the shape of the pill itself gives doctors greater control over how the patient receives his or her medication. The FDA’s decision to...